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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Warning: This post is long and slightly off topic. If you are interested in long cranks or Surly Mr. Whirly cranks read on, if not go to another thread.

Starting off on topic, a picture of the end result:


My 3yr old Wily with Mr. Whirly Cranks.

If you are anything like me you got pretty excited when you first heard the news that Surly was going to make a forged 185mm crank with external bottom bracket and an available 58/94 spider. That would seem to be the perfect thing for a tall clyde with a 29"er. I bought one and have taken it out on a couple of rides. I found very little information on these before buying them, so I hope my post can be helpful to anyone thinking about these cranks.

To start with I ordered 4 parts. The 185mm arms, the 94mm spider, the 68/73 spindle and the Surly BB cups. This is what those four parts looked like after opening the packages.



That's a lot of parts for a crankset and it still doesn't have any chainrings. Contrary to the descriptions I read, the arms came not only with the chainring bolts, but the nuts as well. You could mount all 3 rings with the provided steel nuts, bolts and (aluminum?) spacers. BB spacers came both with the arms and the BB cups, so I got double what I needed for those. I did weigh this stuff, but the results are on my work computer. The total weight of all the stuff in the picture less 3 of the BB spacers was a little under 900g assuming my memory is working today. They are heavier than my 185mm Carminas w/UN72, but lighter than my 195mm HSCycles w/UN72. I like these better for use on my Wily than the Carminas and they are way better than the HSCycle cranks.

All of the pieces seem the be exceptionally high quality. I always thought of Surly as a sort of low cost / decent quality practical brand. The cranks were much more expensive than I thought they would be, but they were also much better quality. The parts fit together very precisely and have a clean attractive finish.

Despite all the small parts, assembly was straight forward. The only minor issues I ran into dealt with the inner chainring. The directions state to put the spider and inner chainring on first and torque to some spec that seemed nowhere near tight enough. Then you are to add the outer and middle rings. This doesn't work if you use the supplied chainring nuts. They are a little longer than normal nuts and won't actually fit between a tightened down inner ring and the middle ring to get them in the holes.

The other minor issue I ran into was with the 58mm BCD and the external BB cups. Out of eight 58mm BCD chainrings in my garage, only one would actually work with the Mr. Whirly cranks without modification. The inner chainring is actually positioned such that it rotates around the BB cup. The BB cup must be able to fit through the middle part of the ring. In the picture below, the silver 20T Sugino steel ring just barely fits around the BB cup. I'm guessing all you'd have to do is clear it since the cranks are so stiff, but I haven't actually tried it yet. You can see some of the gold from the 24T aluminum Vuelta that extends inside the Sugino ring. This little extra aluminum causes the issue. I don't know what dremmelling off that part of the ring would do to it structurally, but at some point that's what I will do.



I ended up installing these with a 29T in the middle and a bash ring in the outer with nothing in the inner position. This is what I had been running with my HSCycle 195mm
cranks.



On the trail, it didn't take long to notice a huge improvement in stiffness of these cranks over any other cranks I've ridden. To be fair, the only non-square taper cranks I've ridden were a set of Octalink XT's from about '99-'03. This is the first external BB crank I've ridden. Any leverage I lose in going from 195mm down to 185mm is more than made up for in the stiffness. Chainline and Q are what I would call neutral. I wouldn't mind if both moved outward a bit, but I like a wider Q than most people would and the middle ring was pretty well centered on the rear cassette. This is good since you really can't adjust either with this design.

I could go on and on about how much I like these cranks and really do think they are just about perfect. Perfection, to me, would have been to use 74mm as the base BCD for the arms and then do what you want with the spiders. If you wanted a 58/94 spider, then you just attach the spider to the 74mm holes and have 58 & 94mm holes on the spider. When I saw the price of the 94mm Spider, I thought long and hard about ordering the 27T X 58mm chainring Action-Tec lists on their website and not buying a spider. I don't know if Surly would consider no-spider usage of their crank as officially supported. But, a single 58mm BCD ring could easily be bolted on and the cranks seem very sturdy. Using 74mm holes could give anyone wanting to run a single ring up front many low-priced options for rings without buying a spider. It's one thing to say I would want cranks like that and another for someone to go through a complete design effort to see if it is even feasible to create something that is economical and structurally sound.

I suppose time and miles may dull my enthusiasm for these, but for now I love them. I think the last time I got this excited about a bike component was 10-11 years ago when I got my Chris King hubs.
 

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Nice write up. You say the Whirleys "are way better than the HSCycle cranks" but you didn't say exactly why. Later you indirectly alluded to stiffness. Is this it? Would you please elaborate on the specific reason(s)?

Thanks,
Sparty
 

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npstaehling said:
The other minor issue I ran into was with the 58mm BCD...

I don't know what dremmelling off that part of the ring would do to it structurally, but at some point that's what I will do.
Excellent, complete, and informative writeup.

I'm running the Whirly's as well (although in 170) and had the same minor issue with the 20t. I dremeled the tips of the tabs off *just* enough to clear the cups. FWIW my 20t ring is an Action Tec. No problems in the ~2 months I've been riding them--haven't even thought about it until I just read your post.

I *did* manage to lose the non-drive preload cap somewhere on the trail. An email to Surly had a replacement on the way here almost immediately.

Great cranks--one of the best (and most underrated) products to be released in the last few years.

MC
 

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Witty McWitterson
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Good to see other folks getting in on these. I agree with you Mike, they are one of those great under-rated products that will eventually work thier way into legend status. They are VERY well constructed. Finish work is excellent. I also have the 185's, moving up from 180 XT/XTR's. Since I'm coming from Octalink, I don't really notice a whole ton of stiffness improvements, but the length is noticible.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
HSCycle

I bought my HSCycle cranks used off of Ebay, so I don't know if they have multiple models for road and mtb or if they adjust for user weight as part of being custom.

When I first go them, I put them on my cyclocross bike and rode them for over a year with really no issues. When I tried to move them over to the Wily I ran into 2 big problems.

The first is the chainline. It is extremely narrow. Even with a 127mm Bottom Bracket I could barely make them work with a single 29T in the middle.

The second issue, as you guessed, is the stiffness. They were fine for light road style pedaling, but when I really wanted to push into them offroad, they flexed a lot. There were times I thought they were going to snap apart. They didn't, but It really made me back off on my pedaling force.

I'm about 215lbs naked so probably 230lb or so with a full camelback. That could have had something to do with it. They might be great for you if you are a bit lighter or don't mash as much.
 

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npstaehling said:
I bought my HSCycle cranks used off of Ebay, so I don't know if they have multiple models for road and mtb or if they adjust for user weight as part of being custom.

When I first go them, I put them on my cyclocross bike and rode them for over a year with really no issues. When I tried to move them over to the Wily I ran into 2 big problems.

The first is the chainline. It is extremely narrow. Even with a 127mm Bottom Bracket I could barely make them work with a single 29T in the middle.

The second issue, as you guessed, is the stiffness. They were fine for light road style pedaling, but when I really wanted to push into them offroad, they flexed a lot. There were times I thought they were going to snap apart. They didn't, but It really made me back off on my pedaling force.

I'm about 215lbs naked so probably 230lb or so with a full camelback. That could have had something to do with it. They might be great for you if you are a bit lighter or don't mash as much.
Thanks for the explanation.

I wonder if you have an older model HSC crank. HSC changed the design dramatically a few years ago. My 3 sets of HSC 195mm arms are very stiff; they're all within 2 years old. I've been riding long cranks since '92, weigh 195# + gear and have broken a crank and a hub due to torque. I pound them mercilessly. Recently folded a brand new 5-bolt chainring while climbing something "too steep." Not braggin', just sayin'...

Yeah, HSC cranks are narrow. I run a 122mm spindle on my singlepeeds yet am forced to run the ring in the outer position to avoid conflict with the chainstay.

I think I'll get a Whirly just to check it out. Wish they were available in longer than 185mm lengths, tho.

Thanks again for the great reveiw.

--Sparty
 

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I'm running Profile 190's, but have been ogling the Surly 185's since they were annouced a few years back. I was hoping they'd be in the same price range as the Profiles, but maybe a bit lighter.

Nice you posted about having 185's. The Surly website says they go up to 185's, but it seems few places actually carry the 185's. Where did you get your set?
 

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Nice write up.

185's!!! Great. I thought they were going to stop at 180. I too have Carminas at 185 but it's nice to know there are other options.

I'm a sucker for a narrow Q. What's the Whirley like? How about a shot to show the "flair" on the cranks? Like a bottom up shot at the BB with a crank arm rotated next to the chainstay?
 

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Rotmilky said:
I'm running Profile 190's, but have been ogling the Surly 185's since they were annouced a few years back. I was hoping they'd be in the same price range as the Profiles, but maybe a bit lighter.

Nice you posted about having 185's. The Surly website says they go up to 185's, but it seems few places actually carry the 185's. Where did you get your set?
The 185 arms are in stock at QBP. Most any LBS can order them.
 

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Thanks for the write-up. Been interested in these cranks since first hearing about them. They sound pretty cool.

One question for the weight weenies out there: Isn't about 900g without a chainring in the neighborhood of Profiles with a titanium spindle? I know this is a Surly product, but that's pretty heavy right?
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Some more information

I tried to measure Q as best I could on the bike and I get about 169mm. It seems comfy to me. I did snap a couple of shots, but I'm not sure what you will be able to tell from them. I'll post them in a bit when I have a chance to crop, shrink and send to photobucket.

More detail on the weights. These are measured on my scale so I'll give some comparison cranks weighed on the same scale. I believe my scale to be reasonably accurate, but have never calibrated it. I just use it to see how my parts weigh relative to each other.

The total of all the parts in the first picture (less the 3 extra spacers) was 885g

What I would call the BB (spindle, cups & 3 spacers) was only 240g
I can't see that a Ti spindle could save you all that much - although I never weighed just the spindle.

Whirly 185mm arms only - 531g

For comparison:

185 Carmina Arms with 58/94 spider - 485g

HSCycle 195mm with 58/94 spider - 621g

Race Face 175mm Next Carbon Sq. tapers 58/94 - 417g

Race Face 180mm Turbines (old style) sq tapers 74/110 - 463g

BBUN72 68X127 - 263g

BBUN72 68X110 - 249g

I really don't consider these heavy for what they are. To be fair the 885g is a steel axle in the BB and includes all steel mounting hardware, you just have to add rings.

To me a fair comparison with the Carminas would be to add the arms (485g) a UN72 (263g) then maybe 75g? for steel chainring bolts and crank arm bolts. That would be 823g to compare to the 885g of the Whirly's. The Whirly's feel much more stiff and I would guess them to handle more abuse. Of course for the complete weight weenie that wants to compare these to 170mm carbon arms with Ti Axle BB, Ti crank bolts, alloy chainring bolts, etc. then yes they are heavy.
 
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